Monday, December 27, 2010

A white Christmas, or not?

After all the talk last week about the chances of Charlotte getting its first white Christmas since 1947, now we're left with a debate.

Was it a white Christmas, or not?

Rain changed to snow about 7 p.m., and reliable sources tell me the ground was coated with snow by midnight. I was dreaming of sugar plums by that time.

Snowfall was even heavier to the north and of Charlotte, where there were several inches on the ground by midnight.

However, the real answer isn't quite to easy.

"Officially, it will not go into the record books as a white Christmas," says John Tomko, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Greer, S.C. Tomko is responsible for keep weather data for the western Carolinas, and he says that according to the rules, Christmas 2010 was not white.

"The snow depth for the day is measured at 12 UTZ (12 noon Universal time, or 7 a.m. in Charlotte," Tomko says.

At 7 a.m. Christmas Day, the sun was still shining through a layer of broken clouds. The precipitation didn't arrive until at least eight hours later.

So in the record books, Charlotte's last white Christmas was in 1947. Who knows how long it will be before we have another opportunity?

Tomko acknowledges that some people don't care about the weather rulebook.

"I'm sure a lot of people had a dusting of snow in the evening," he says. "To them, it was a white Christmas. And I'm not going to argue with them. They'll probably remember it as a white Christmas.

"But according to the rules, it was not."

Tomko says Charlotte had 2 inches on the ground at 7 a.m. Sunday, the official measuring time for Dec. 26. But between 3 and 4 inches actually fell from the storm.


Justin C said...

Well here in Statesville, the ground was covered white before noon Christmas day. So I don't know if this just applies to Charlotte but places north of Charlotte definitely fell within the "rules".

Justin C said...

sorry just realized it said 7am.

Anonymous said...

Rules are made to be broken! :-)

Ghoul said...

At 7 a.m. Christmas Day, the sun was still shining through a layer of broken clouds. The precipitation didn't arrive until at least eight hours later.

Considering that the sun didn't rise on December 25th until 7:29AM, I going to say the National Weather Service is full of it.

John - Harrisburg said...

Tell Mr. Tomko that we don't give a hoot about UTC... I got your UTC right here!

Anonymous said...

I drove through the snow Christmas night to beat the post snowstorm traffic home.

85 was mostly wet from the VA line to Greensboro and then conditions went rapidly downhill because the DOT didn't keep the highway plowed.

I managed to drive around all the scardycats even at 20 miles BELOW the 70 mph speed limit (yes I have a Escape SUV with still practically new deep tread tires).

Sunday the 26th was a BEAUTIFUL WINTER WONDERLAND with all the wet snow sticking to everything.

Being native Marylander and lived in New Jersey for 10 years, I am sort of jealous Jersey was socked hard by the Nor'easter.

But I am thankful the Charlotte area got any snow especially Christmas night.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and looking forward to 2011. I'll be at Baltimore's Inner Harbor for the 1st time to celebrate the New Year.

BTW, stay safe on the road New Year's Eve. Arrive alive for 2011.


Steve said...

So the sun came up over a half hour early, and that wasn't the headline? Amazing!!!!

Mtnpainter said...

The 7 am mandate for officially representing snow fall for a day that is not over for another 17 hours is nonsense and distorts what actually occured on the measured day. Rainfall measurement for a day or month or any time period is not mandated to be measured at 7 am, so why do professionals put up with such a flawed definition for snow measurement? When someone asks if there was measurable snow on 12/25 or any other date, they expect a straight forward answer - not what was observed at 7 AM on the day in question. When rules are meant to be enforced literally, the professionals in the field of science are the ones that should make sure such procedures are not flawed and maintained out of indifference.

Anonymous said...

Mtnpainter, your comment is extremely well written. That's what I was going to say, but it would have been difficult to say it so well.

Anonymous said...

Actually it was the best of both worlds. The weather held off long enough for family members from Troutman and Iron Station to come for dinner and get home safely and then a beautiful snowfall started that quickly covered the ground. The added benefit was getting to sleep in Sunday morning since church services were canceled.